Pilbara local legend marks 90th birthday
■ One of Hedland’s living treasures celebrated his 90th birthday last week over a cuppa with friends.
Having spent more than 70 funfilled years in and around the Pilbara, World War II veteran Merv Stanton said it was a pleasure to continue to be “fussed over”.
He said he joined neighbour Georgie Rose for a brew at Dome Coffee, entertained his son who flew in for a visit and generally could not escape the many wellwishers.
“I had a good birthday and I appreciate everybody caring for me and they do make a fuss of me for my birthday … they are still making a fuss of me, but I really appreciate it,” he said.
While tea was the drink of choice last week, Mr Stanton has more often favoured a beer over the past 70 years.
First patrolling into the Pilbara in 1942 as part of a guerilla force on the lookout for signs of the Japanese, he went on to serve with the Australian Army in New Guinea and Japan before returning to Hedland in 1948.
Along with the hardships and sacrifices have been many larrikin tales.
These included saving his army buddy from a crocodile along Eighty Mile Beach and playing rugby on the Hiroshima nuclear blast site. He even went on strike in 1958 after Hedland’s port authority banned drinking beer during smoko.
He said times had changed since then.
“When I came back after the war in 1948 there were only about 300 people in Hedland,” he said.
“The town didn’t go no more than one mile from the post office — now look at the joint.
“I’m not even game to drive down to South Hedland because it is a different country all together, I used to go out there and shoot kangaroos.”
With more coffees planned for the coming days, Mr Stanton said his birthday celebrations were still kicking on.
Merv Stanton has celebrated his 90th birthday.